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Date Set; New Electrical Safety Rules for Landlords

Posted on January 16th, 2020 -

Five-year safety checks will be mandatory for landlords for all new tenancies from 01 July 2020. This will be rolled out to all existing tenancies from 01 April 2021. The new regulations were tabled by the Government on Monday 13th January 2020, requiring pre-tenancy and five yearly checks of all fixed appliances and wiring.

Landlords failing to comply with the new rules will face fines of up to £30,000.

Once the electrical installation has been tested, the landlord needs to receive a written report from the inspector, with the results and next inspection date. They must then;
– Give a copy of the report to tenants within 28 days
– Give a copy to the local authority, if it asks for one, within seven day
– Keep a copy and give it to the person carrying out the next inspection.

For new tenancies, the landlord must:
– Give the tenant a copy of the most recent report before they move in
– Give a copy of the most recent report to any prospective new tenant who asks for it in writing, within 28 days

For further information http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2020/9780111191934

Article Abridged from RLA

GDPR – ICO chasing companies who have not registered and paid their Data Protection Fee.

Posted on January 16th, 2020 -

GDPR came into force on 25th May 2018. All businesses that process personal information (private landlords included) need to register with the Information Commissioners Office and pay the yearly Data Protection Fee. If you haven’t registered – make this a priority!

The ICO have launched a postal campaign to remind all registered companies of their legal obligation. The fee is £40.00 per year for most companies (dependant on turnover). A Direct Debit can be set up for automatic yearly payments.

There are a range of services and support that the ICO provide to help you comply with the law and give your tenants/clients confidence in the way you process personal information.

Very few companies are exempt, you can complete the ICO self-assessment to check https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-fee/self-assessment/

For more information see the ICO website;


Iain Maitland, SWLA Vice Chair Attends Teignbridge Housing Services Event

Posted on November 20th, 2019 -

Friday 15th November was the annual consultation between Teignbridge Housing and key stakeholders/partners who contribute to and influence the delivery of strategic objectives in the Private Rented Sector in the Teignbridge area. For more information on the Council’s strategy; https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/council-information/strategies-policies-and-performance/strategies-and-plans/

SWLA are proud to have input into such events, shaping the future of private renting for landlords and tenants alike.

Vice Chair, expert witness.

Posted on November 12th, 2019 -

The Vice Chairman, Iain Maitland attended Cornwall Council Private Rented Sector (PRS) inquiry as an expert witness, on Monday 11th November.
Cornwall Council’s Economic Growth and Development Overview and Scrutiny Committee, were holding an inquiry focussing specifically on the PRS in Cornwall (Selective Licensing being considered).
The session revolved around:
. Reliance on the PRS for housing needs.
. Decent and safe homes.
. New powers to tackle poor standards.
. Rogue landlord activity.
. Also covered were the abolition of Section 21 possession and its effects.
. Rent control.
. Longer AST’s.
. Training for landlords and accreditation.

The Vice Chairman expressed views on all of the above, which will hopefully be considered favourably especially with regard to selective licencing.

SWLA Membership Renewals Now Due!

Posted on November 1st, 2019 -

Thank you to all of our members who have renewed already.

For any members yet to renew, your membership expired on 31st October. Please arrange payment of £45.00 if you wish to renew for 2019-2020;

Account Name: SWLA
Sort Code: 20-68-10
Account Number: 50498610

Please quote your name and membership number as the reference.

Cheques can be sent to: SWLA, 30 Dale Road, Plymouth, PL4 6PD

**Your receipt will be emailed when payment has been received unless a paper copy is requested. You are agreeing to the terms and conditions of your original membership by paying your fee.**

Electrical Safety Standards on the way for England

Posted on October 30th, 2019 -

Sections 122 and 123 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (electrical safety standards) came into force on 25 October 2019. This means we are one step closer to the introduction of mandatory electrical safety checks in the private rented sector.

An enabling power was contained in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 under Section 122 to allow the Secretary of State through regulations to impose duties on private landlords to ensure that electrical safety standards are met in a property under their ownership, while a tenancy is in place. The Section also allows the Secretary of State to specify obligations that may be required of the landlord with regards to the frequency of checks and the expertise expected of any persons who undertake such checks.

Section 123 provides for the enforcement of any responsibilities introduced under Section 122 including the use of financial penalties and rights of appeal.

Following Royal Assent of the Housing and Planning Act on 12 May 2016, a working group that included, electrical and tenant bodies was established to provide recommendations on what the requirements for electrical safety in the private rented sector should look like.

Now that the Commencement Order is in place, the Secretary of State has the power to lay actual regulations, which we expect to be laid before Parliament shortly.

Summary of Electrical Safety Working Group recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Five yearly mandatory electrical installation checks should be set out in secondary legislation.

Recommendation 2: Visual checks of the safety of the electrical installation by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.

Recommendation 3: A report should be issued to the landlord which confirms that an EICR has been completed along with confirmation that any remedial work necessary has been undertaken satisfactorily. A copy should be issued to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and should be made available to local authorities on request.

Recommendation 4: Landlord supplied electrical appliance testing and visual checks of electrical appliances by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.

Recommendation 5: The installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) by landlords should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.

Recommendation 6: A Private Rented Sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme should be set up which would be separate from existing Building Regulations competent person’s scheme.

Recommendation 7: DCLG should commission the Electrotechnical Assessment Specification (EAS) management committee to consider the most effective method of recognising ‘competent PRS testers’ to carry out electrical inspections and tests.

Recommendation 8: Legislative requirements should be phased in, beginning with new tenancies, followed by all existing tenancies.

Article Abridged from ARLA

Landlord Training Course

Posted on October 22nd, 2019 -

Landlord Accreditation Training Course

Monday 27th January 2020 – 9:30 – 4:30pm

Venue – Charter Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA 

Price – £65 for members of SWLA, £75 for non – members for one day course.

Course covers ASTs, Deposits, Section 21s, Section 8s, HMOs, Gas and Electrical Safety, Inventories and much more.

The course will provide you with all the skills to start, manage and finish a tenancy.

Places still available. Contact the office on 01752 510913 or via the website to book your place, places secured on receipt of payment.

Over 780 landlords have already completed this course since September 2011.

Course can lead to Accreditation, if required.

We are proud to announce Landlord Accreditation South West (LASW) are founder members of the West of England Rental Standard.  

Landlord Training Course

Posted on October 22nd, 2019 -

Landlord Training Course – Intermediate Law 

Friday 17th January 2020 – 9:30am – 4:30pm

Of particular interest to letting agents and portfolio holders

Venue – Astor Room, Plymouth Guildhall, Royal Parade, Plymouth PL1 1HA

If you are accredited this will count towards your CPD hours, but the course is open to all.

Cost for SWLA members – £65. Cost for non-SWLA members – £75.

A one-day course providing a more in-depth coverage of important areas of legislation and practice. Amongst the topics included will be:  

  • Tenancy Agreements – Special Clauses.
  • Grounds for Possession & Accelerated Possession
  • Overseas Landlords
  • Instructing Contractors
  • Tenants’ Compensation Rights
  • Abandonment and Surrender
  • Deposit Protection

Plus latest news and updates.

Places secured upon receipt of payment, book your place through the office 01752 510913.

Course will be instructed by Stephen Fowler from Training for Professionals.

SWLA October 2019 General Meeting

Posted on October 18th, 2019 -

On Wednesday 16th October 2019, we held our general meeting at the Future Inn, Plymouth. We had two fantastic speakers; Krissy Salmon from One Savings Bank, discussing the changing landscape of the investor property market. Also, Martyn Taylor, Managing Director of Ashley Taylor Solicitors discussing the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 and how it affects landlords, also possession problems and how to avoid them.

60 members were in attendance and had good opportunity to ask questions and have queries answered by the speakers.

Krissy Salmon is happy to help SWLA members with any financial/lending queries following the meeting and can be contacted on; krissy.salmon@osb.co.uk

Martyn Taylor, MD of Ashley Taylors mentioned the services that his company can offer landlords, they are very experienced in possession cases and can offer an advocacy service at possession hearings. Also further legal advice if needed. To book a court advocate for a possession hearing, call 01825 766767. Discount is given to SWLA members.

The next date for your diary is our SWLA open office on Wednesday 11th December 2019 – all members welcome for a Christmas catch up and a mince pie!

Last Week to Complete the Consultation Survey; Abolition of Section 21

Posted on October 4th, 2019 -

Have your say! The Government consultation closes on Saturday 12th October 2019


SWLA Meeting with Matt Garrett and Councillor Chris Penberthy

Posted on October 2nd, 2019 -

Iain Maitland (Vice Chair SWLA) and Linda Johns (SWLA Policy Officer) met with Matt Garrett (Service Director, Community Connections Plymouth City Council) and Councillor Chris Penberthy (Cabinet for Housing and Co-operative Development) on Monday 1st October 2019.

Items on the agenda included the oversupply of HMOs in Plymouth and the abolition of Section 21.

If any of our members would like further information regarding change of use of HMOs, please contact the SWLA Office.

IMPORTANT REMINDER; the government’s Abolition of Section 21 consultation closes on Saturday 12th October 2019. Carry out the online consultation survey if you want your view to be heard.


HMOs in Plymouth

Posted on September 23rd, 2019 -

The increase in purpose built student accommodation and the drop in student numbers has resulted in an oversupply of HMOs in the city. Plymouth City Council have been in consultation with SWLA regarding possible alternative use of some properties. Plymouth City Council are interested in the number of landlords who maybe considering a change of use of HMOs into single family dwellings or self contained flats.

Please contact SWLA office to express an interest.

SWLA Attend West of England Landlord Panel Meeting

Posted on September 20th, 2019 -

On Wednesday 11th September, Office Manager Gillian Kerr attended the Landlord Panel Meeting in Bath.

Items discussed included a licencing update, legislation updates (including removal of Section 21), prosecutions/enforcements and current market conditions.

Gas Safety Week: Fighting for a Gas Safe Nation

Posted on September 12th, 2019 -

SWLA are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week 2019, taking place 16th – 22nd September.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is coordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.  

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a highly poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning, as you cannot see it, taste it or smell it.  

Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords must make sure maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. 

If you’re a landlord, you are legally obliged to make sure:

  • Gas pipework, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition.
  • All gas appliances and flues provided for tenants’ use have an annual safety check. Your tenants can report you to the HSE if you don’t provide one, so it’s important to remember! You can set a free email and/or text reminder so you don’t forget, visit StayGasSafe.co.uk.
  • A Gas Safety Record is provided to the tenant within 28 days of completing the check or to any new tenant before they move in.
  • You keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record until two further checks have taken place.
  • Maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • All gas equipment (including any appliance left by a previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.

Before any gas work is carried out always check the engineer is qualified to carry out the work that needs doing e.g. natural gas, domestic boiler. You can find this information on the Gas Safe Register website or by checking the back of the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card. Encourage your tenants to also check the card when they arrive at the property.

For more information and to find or check an engineer visit GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.

The Fair Possession Coalition Meeting

Posted on September 2nd, 2019 -

Vice Chairman Iain Maitland attended the Fair Possession Coalition meeting at Smith Square London on Friday 30th August 2019.

Section 21 abolition was the main topic of discussion with an update on progress and an agreement on the way ahead. Also on the agenda was licensing, landlord registration and HMO standards.

Tax Simplification Survey – Have Your Say.

Posted on August 30th, 2019 -

Following on from the meeting that we held yesterday with Andy Richers and Nigel Mellor, Policy Advisors from “Office from Tax Simplification”, they have invited our members to complete a Government Survey, regarding ways that paying tax can be simplified. Please find link below:


Meeting with Policy Advisors from Office of Tax Simplification.

Posted on August 29th, 2019 -

We had a meeting in our Office today, with Andy Richens, and Nigel Mellor both Policy Advisors from the “Office of Tax Simplification”.

In attendance were Iain Maitland (Vice Chairman), Steve Lees (Chairman) and Katarina Swain (Treasurer). They came to discuss and obtain our viewpoint on simplifying Tax payments for the self-employed and landlords. We will update you as we receive more information on this subject in due course.

Meeting with Plymouth City Council, 13th August 2019 in SWLA offices Dale Road

Posted on August 20th, 2019 -

The Chairman (Steve Lees) Vice Chairman (Iain Maitland) and Policy Officer (Linda Johns) met with Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Housing & Co-operative Development and Matt Garrett Head of Community Connections Plymouth City Council.

On the agenda and discussed were – abolition of Section 21 notice, HMO licensing and purpose built student accommodation, planning and empty homes policy.

Their next planned meeting is for 30th September 2019.

Changes to Section 21 Form 6A and Notes. Also, Changes to the ‘How to Rent’ Guide.

Posted on August 14th, 2019 -

On 8th August 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government made slight changes to the Section 21, Form 6A and the Notes which accompany the form. The changes are very minor but we remind SWLA members to use the most up to date form when serving notice or this could cause issues in gaining possession. As Form 6A is a statutory notice, the wording is prescribed and cannot be changed without a statutory instrument, it’s only the layout of this form that has been updated. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-tenancy-forms#form-6a

The ‘How to Rent‘ guide has also been updated with minor changes;

  • 3rd June 2019 Corrected to reflect the rebranding of National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) to Safeagent, and to update links to the GOV.UK client money protection scheme webpage.
  • 29th July 2019 The ‘Before you start’ section was updated to clarify Shelter’s advisory role. The sentence ‘If you don’t have a guarantor, you can ask Shelter for help’ was amended to ‘If you don’t have a guarantor, you can ask Shelter for advice’.

The publishing went ahead without any obvious updates on the publication page. ‘How to Rent’ guides should always be printed from the gov.uk website to ensure that the most up to date copy is given to your tenant at the start of their tenancy. Note, the latest publication still has May 2019’s date within the booklet. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent

Section 21 Abolition; Largest Ever Non Government Survey of the PRS in England and Wales

Posted on July 19th, 2019 -

Read the full report here;


It has found that of the landlords that had used Section 21:

• 84% had used it because their tenant hadn’t been paying rent
• 56% had used it because of damage to property
• 51% had used it because of anti-social behaviour
• 26% said that they had served a Section 21 notice at the tenants’ request – to enable them to seek social housing to avoid them being classed as intentionally homeless

What’s next?

We encourage members to approach their MPs to explain the impact the loss of Section 21 will have on them and their businesses. A letter template can be downloaded on the SWLA Members Area under ‘stationery’. Alternatively, contact the office if you would prefer a copy by email.

URGENT LANDLORD ACTION ADVISED; Abolition of Section 21 (no fault eviction)

Posted on July 18th, 2019 -

The government, with cross party support, intends to abolish the Section 21. There will be a consultation process, but the intention is clear: Section 21s will go!

Tenant lobby groups have long campaigned for longer tenancies and more security of tenure. Cross party MPs have been convinced that Section 21s are greatly mis-used. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Over 90% of tenancies are ended by a tenant*
  • The average tenancy lasts over 4 years*
  • 84% of private tenants are satisfied with their current accommodation*
  • 70% of landlords kept rent unchanged following tenancy renewal*

The majority of landlords only seek repossession for legitimate reasons. In a government survey, it was found that the most common cause of repossession is rent arrears (58%) with misuse of property/anti-social behaviour second (45%).

The reality is that Section 21 notices are used by landlords because all other processes are not working. South West Landlords Association has joined with 17 other landlord/agent representative bodies to form the ‘Fair Possession Coalition’. Members of the coalition and their Blueprint for Reforms to Regulations Governing Repossession can be viewed on the SWLA website news feed.

This document has been forwarded to both government and opposition Housing Ministers and the M.O.J.

It is imperative that the Section 21 is not abolished without a new system in place that provides landlords with the same level of confidence about repossessing properties in legitimate circumstances.

*Statistics from the English Housing Survey 2017/2018

The current Section 8 process, under which a landlord can repossess properties based on a number of grounds, is not fit for purpose and does not provide the level of certainty of a Section 21.

The current judicial process for dealing with possession cases is confusing for tenants and landlords and takes on average over 5 months from service of notice to possession.

The Coalition wants a comprehensive overhaul of the regulations and processes for possession. There should be clear grounds for repossessions that are unable to be exploited by criminal landlords or unreliable tenants. Also a fully funded housing court, use of mediation and local venues. The process should be less intimidating for tenants and landlords and should enable both to obtain swift and accessible justice.

We request all of our members to read the Coalition’s proposals; https://www.landlordssouthwest.co.uk/2019/07/18/swla-joins-fair-possessions-coalition/

Then, contact your MP to ensure that they are aware of landlord concerns regarding the removal of the Section 21 without a suitable replacement procedure.

There is a letter template on the SWLA website in the ‘members area’ which you can download, amend and send. Alternative, please contact the SWLA office and we will email you a copy.


Posted on July 18th, 2019 -


SECTION 21 repossessions should be retained in the private rented sector unless and until a new system is in place that provides landlords with the same level of confidence about repossessing properties in legitimate circumstances.

Groups representing landlords and letting agents forming a ‘Fair Possessions Coalition’ have united in warning that plans to abolish Section 21 repossessions without a new system in place would undermine investment in the sector at a time when private landlords are relied upon on to provide homes for one in five households in England.

In a statement the Coalition notes that whilst landlords much prefer to have good tenants staying long term in their properties they need certainty that in legitimate circumstances, such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, they can swiftly and easily repossess their properties in much the same way as social landlords and mortgage lenders.

It is argued that the current ‘Section 8’ process, under which landlords can repossess properties based on a number of grounds, is not fit for purpose and does not provide the level of certainty offered by Section 21.The current judicial process for dealing with possession cases is confusing for tenants and takes an average of over five months from a landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening.

Instead of tinkering with the system, the Coalition calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the regulations and processes enabling landlords to repossess their properties. It should lay out clear grounds for repossession that are unable to be exploited by criminal landlords or unreliable tenants.

Linked to the reform should be the establishment of a new, dedicated, fully funded housing court. This should make better use of mediation taking into account models in use abroad and meet in local venues such as schools and community centres, making the process less intimidating and easier for landlords and tenants to obtain the swift and accessible justice they need if the relationship is to work effectively.

The Coalition argues that such reforms must form part of a wider package of measures including welfare reforms to better support vulnerable tenants to sustain tenancies and smart taxation to encourage the development of the new homes for private rent the country needs.

The Fair Possessions Coalition is made up of: ARLA Propertymark; Cornwall Residential Landlords Association; Country Land and Business Association; East Midlands Property Owners; Eastern Landlords Association; Guild of Residential Landlords; Humber Landlords Association; iHowz; Landlord Action; Leeds Property Association; National Landlords Alliance; National Landlords Association; North West Landlords Association; Portsmouth and District Private Landlords’ Association; Residential Landlords Association; Safe Agent; South West Landlords Association; and Theresa Wallace (Chair, The Lettings Industry Council)

A thriving private rental market that provides choice for tenants hinges on landlords having confidence that they can regain possession of their property in a timely and efficient way. At present, only Section 21 repossessions provide that certainty. It should be kept unless and until a new system is in place that provides landlords with the same level of certainty. The other routes currently available for repossessing properties do not meet this test.


1.1       The process for repossessing properties should meet the needs of tenants and landlords in a modern private-rented sector and must be established upon the following key principles.

  • Landlords must have confidence that they are able to regain possession of their properties when they have legitimate reasons for doing so and that this process should not be unduly difficult, lengthy or expensive. This must also take account of situations where a fixed term tenancy is a requirement, such as letting to students.
  • The grounds upon which landlords are able to repossess properties need to be unambiguous and reasonable both to them and to tenants.
  • There needs to be an effective and efficient system of adjudicating cases that are disputed. This should include the development of a properly funded housing court.
  • The proposals should avoid the introduction of any forms of rent control other than those which already exist to prevent market abuses.


2.1       Private landlords prefer to have reliable tenants in their property long term. Changes in tenants creates greater work and costs which no landlord actively seeks, whilst a desire for continuity makes in-tenancy rent increases less likely.

2.2       That is why the average length that a private sector tenant has been in their current property is increasing and is now 4.1 years (English Housing Survey (EHS), 2017-18). It is why in the last 3 years around 90 per cent of tenancies which came to an end were ended by the tenant (EHS, 2016-17). Also, 70 per cent of landlords have said they kept the rent the same following their most recent tenancy renewal (English Private Landlords Survey, 2018).

2.3       With the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warning of average annual rent rises of 3 per cent over the next five years as a result of the demand for private rented homes exceeding supply, it is vital that the vast majority of landlords who do the right thing are supported to provide the homes to rent the country needs. Quite simply, security of tenure will mean nothing without there being sufficient homes to rent in the first place.

2.4       As a consequence it is essential private landlords have confidence that in legitimate circumstance they can swiftly and easily regain possession of their property, in the same way mortgage lenders and social landlords can if they need to.

2.5       Much of the focus of debate has been on the use of Section 21 repossessions. Some have argued that they amount to ‘no fault evictions’ but that is not the case. All the evidence from our respective organisations shows that the overwhelming majority of landlords use Section 21 for legitimate purposes such as tenant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour, where Section 8 is often ineffective.

2.6       For the vast majority of landlords, using Section 21 is the only certainty they have that in legitimate circumstances they can regain possession in a timely way. Section 8 is simply not working as it should for two key reasons:

  • The current Section 8 grounds to repossess a property are not adequate. There are a number of key grounds that do not exist, such as a landlord wanting to sell a property. Likewise, many of the current grounds do not work as they should. A clear example is that the level of evidence required makes addressing the problem of anti-social tenants difficult, causing misery for neighbours and, in the case of Houses of Multiple Occupation, fellow tenants as well.
  • The problems with the current Section 8 grounds are compounded by a court system which is not fit for purpose, overly complex difficult to access and under resourced. According to the Ministry of Justice it can take an average of 21.6 weeks (over five months) from a private landlord applying to the courts for a property to be repossessed to it actually happening.

2.7       There are clearly a small minority of landlords who abuse their position and seek to evict tenants simply for raising concerns about standards in a property. This is unacceptable, but as the Deregulation Act makes clear, such ‘retaliatory evictions’ are already illegal and councils have powers to prevent them. Sadly, as with too much legislation in the sector, these powers are not being properly used or enforced.


3.1       The Government has made clear its plans to scrap Section 21 repossessions in favour of reforms to Section 8 and improvements to the Court Processes.

3.2       In the interest of maintaining confidence in the market and the supply of sufficient private rented housing it is vital that rather than tinkering with the current regulations wholesale reforms are made to legislation and processes governing the repossession of properties by landlords. This is more likely to achieve a result that is fair to both landlords and tenants.

3.3       This means not rushing change and also ensuring that all the elements for the reformed regulations and processes are in place well before Section 21 is removed. This would give essential confidence that any new system put in place works and that space is available to properly address any teething problems before Section 21 is abolished.

3.4       The Government should also consider the law of unintended consequences. This includes:

  • Ensuring that the new system does not adversely impact the confidence of landlords to rent to more vulnerable tenants who can bring with them a higher risk of rent arrears. This would be a particularly acute problem in rural areas and smaller towns where the choice of homes to rent is far less than in larger cities.
  • Considering the position of members of the armed forces who let properties whilst stationed abroad and then may need to repossess them swiftly ahead of a return to the UK.
  • Ensuring that the position of students who do not require security of tenure beyond the academic year is properly considered and accounted for.


4.1       Landlords have legitimate reasons to repossess. These need to be laid out so they are clear and comprehensive. This will ensure that both landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities to each other. It will also make it clear where a landlord is abusing their position making it more difficult for them to do so. Equally, a tenant will be clear about when a landlord has the right to ask them to leave and when and how this may be open to challenge.

4.2       We will be preparing a detailed note on what the grounds for repossessing properties should be and the processes and time scales that should apply alongside this statement.  In the meantime, the basic grounds should include:

  • Anti-Social Behaviour – Landlords must be able to take swift action to prevent neighbours having to put up with bad behaviour by tenants of a property.
  • Rent arrears – Landlords must be able to take action promptly to prevent arrears rising to levels that are unreasonable and to be able to recoup what is owed. Possession orders that are being sought for rent arrears should lead to a County Court Judgement (CCJ) being recorded in the Official Statutory Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for England and Wales as is the case with any ordinary debt claim.
  • Serious breach of tenancy– There are numerous other clauses in a tenancy agreement, many of which are specific to the property that has been rented. Landlord must be able to recover their property from tenants who break their agreements.
  • Damage to the property or contents – Tenants who are damaging a property or its contents cannot be allowed to stay in it so potentially causing more damage.
  • End of a student tenancy – Ensuring grounds are available to repossess properties where students complete their studies or reach the end of their academic year. Students do not need to be caught within indefinite tenancies.
  • Repairs and renovations – Landlords needs to regain possession where repairs and renovations require a property to be empty.
  • A property being sold – Landlords must have the right to be able to sell their property when they want or need to.
  • Landlord or a family member wanting to live in the property – Landlords should be able to repossess property where either they and/or a member of their family want to move into the property.
  • Repeated refusal of access to a property – Landlords sometimes need to access their property to carry out their legal responsibilities. They should be able to repossess properties where they are prevented from gaining access by their tenants.
  • End of employment linked to a rental property – Ensuring grounds are available to repossess properties at the end of someone’s employment where it is linked to the provision of a rental property.
  • Landlord refused a licence to let by the local authority – A process needs to be put in place to enable landlords to repossess properties in such circumstances without making them liable for a Rent Repayment Order for up to 12 months.


5.1       There should be an initial ‘starter’ tenancy, as is the case in the social rented sector, before it switches to the indefinite model being proposed by the Government. It is not reasonable to expect the private sector to offer better terms than a social sector which is the beneficiary of generous funding and tax breaks.

5.2       There needs to be clear and adequate periods of notice given by a landlord when seeking repossession.

5.3       The grounds for repossession need to be made clear to the tenant.

5.4       There need to be safeguards for tenants to ensure that they have protection against abuse of these rights by the minority of bad landlords.

5.5       The level of evidence that a landlord is required to produce when making an application under any ground should not be set at such a high level as to make it unreasonably difficult for them to comply but also should be sufficient to fully justify an application.

5.6       Applications to repossess properties should be easy to use to ensure landlords are not required to invest considerable sums of money for legal representation.

5.7       There should be a clear time frame for each ground of repossession to be applied for and implemented.

5.8       There should be clear and easy to understand rights for a tenant to challenge an application. Where there is a challenge there should be a clear, and easy to apply for, process for adjudication.

5.9       This needs to be efficient, expeditious and inexpensive.

5.10     Councils and others should be instructed not to encourage (or even insist that) tenants disobey court orders to leave by a specified date on the basis that the tenant will not be re-housed unless they have held on until the bailiffs arrive. 

5.11     There should be a minimum fixed-term before which a tenant may not unilaterally serve notice that they intend to leave the property. This would protect landlords from uncommitted tenants who leave very shortly after a tenancy has commenced.

5.12     The Government should establish a dedicated and properly funded housing court to address the failures in the current system, namely that it takes too long to repossess property through the courts and the system is far too confusing for landlords and tenants to uphold their rights given that multiple bodies currently adjudicate on different matters in the sector.

5.13     A housing court should build on the work of the existing Property Tribunal. This would have the advantage of:

  • Having most cases decided on paper making the process swifter, cheaper and easier to access for all concerned.
  • Using the mediation and enhanced Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures the Tribunal operates, particularly for cases in respect of property disrepair.
  • Enabling the use of the Tribunal’s in-house surveyors and inspectors, thereby reducing the need for costly, external experts’ reports to be obtained.
  • Being able to integrate with, and take full advantage of, the new online courts so that the majority of paperwork and case management could be dealt with online.
  • The more informal operation of the Tribunal (compared to a county court for example) would make it much less daunting for tenants and landlords allowing easier access for unrepresented parties.
  • The Tribunal currently holds hearings in local public buildings such as schools, making it physically easier to access and reducing the pressures on the existing court estate. This is especially important since court closures have meant landlords and tenants currently have to travel considerable distances in order to obtain and access hearings.

5.14     Work should be carried out to look also at different models around the world to establish what might work in the UK.


6.1       We are concerned that the logic of the Government’s plans for indefinite tenancies is that there will be calls for restrictions to prevent landlords increasing rents as a means of encouraging tenants to leave a tenancy where they may have no other ground available.    

6.2       The reformed structure for repossessions should ensure that this does not open the way to rent controls which, all the evidence proves, would be highly damaging and lead to a very significant reduction in supply.

6.3       Rather, the Government should reiterate that the law as it currently stands already includes provisions to prevent market abuses.


7.1       We further call for the proposals to form part of a much broader package to support tenants and good landlords. This should include:

  • Welfare Reform – ending the housing benefit cap and giving all Universal Credit claimants a right, from the start of their claim, to choose, where they feel it is best, for the housing element to be paid directly to their landlord.
  • Smart taxation – to encourage the development of genuinely new homes for rent and encourage sales of properties with tenants in situ, thereby reducing the need to evict them.
  • Proper implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act – ensuring that councils have the resources they need to end the practice of councils telling tenants to wait until bailiffs before leaving a property when a court has agreed that a property can be repossessed.
  • Improving the Bailiffs system – a number of the organisations in the coalitions believe that the county court bailiff system should be privatised, as is the case with High Court Enforcement Officers. This would relieve the Ministry of Justice from funding the service and a fee could be charged to prospective service suppliers. There would be no loss to tenants with the same level of oversight as already exists in the High Court.

Call for Evidence on Tenancy Deposit Protection

Posted on June 28th, 2019 -

Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP has today announced a call for evidence on deposit protection in England.

This call for evidence seeks to understand the barriers tenants face providing a second deposit when moving from one tenancy to the next. It looks at what can be done to speed up the return of deposits to tenants at the end of the tenancy.


SWLA Attend West of England Landlord Panel Meeting

Posted on June 14th, 2019 -

Gillian Kerr, SWLA Office Manager attended the meeting in Bristol on Wednesday 12th June 2019. Items discussed included;

  • Licencing Updates from all West of England Local Authorities
  • Bristol ‘Rent with Confidence’ Memberships Rewards
  • Legislation Updates (Removal of Section 21 and Tenant Fees Act 2019)
  • Prosecutions and other enforcements (MEES/agent compliance etc)
  • Market conditions
  • Future dates for landlord forum and Bristol Landlord Expo

The West of England Landlord Expo (Bristol) date for 2020 is set for 26th March 2020. It’s the Expo’s 20th Anniversary so promises to be a busy and informative day. All landlords are welcome and it’s free to attend, pop it in your diary! SWLA will have a stand at the event.

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